Women voters outnumbered men in 2nd and 3rd phase, it may impact Bihar results
Women played a significant role as Bihar recorded a marginal higher voter turnout in 2020 polls compared to the previous assembly elections in 2015 in what was billed as the biggest election exercise in the world in times of the coronavirus pandemic.
At 57.05%, the overall voter turnout was 0.39% higher this time as compared to 56.66% in 2015, according to data shared by the office of the Bihar chief electoral officer. There was a 1.36% increase in the male voter turnout, which was 54.68% this time as compared to 53.32% the last time.
Around 2.5 lakh migrant voters out of the 28-30 lakh who returned to the state during the pandemic were added to the voter list this year, Bihar’s chief electoral officer HR Srinivasa had said during a post-poll press conference on November 7.
Despite a 0.79% drop in women voter turnout this year as compared to 2015, women voters clearly outnumbered men in districts of north Bihar that went to polls in the third and final phase on November 7.
At 65.54%, the women voter turnout on 78 assembly seats across 15 districts in the third phase polls was the highest in the three-phase assembly polls this time.
Female voter turnout was also higher in the second phase polls on 94 seats across 17 districts on November 3, when 58.80% women voted as against 52.92% men. However, in the first phase polls on 71 seats, covering 16 districts of south Bihar on October 28, voter turnout of men was 56.83% as against 54.41% women.
As many as 23 of Bihar’s 38 districts reported higher turnout of women voters than men. These include West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Supaul, Araria, Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, Madhepura, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Siwan, Saran, Vaishali, Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Banka.
Turnout of women was more in all assembly constituencies — 103 to be precise — across 16 districts, including West Champaran (9 constituencies), East Champaran (12), Sheohar (1), Sitmarahi (8), Madhubani (10), Supaul (5), Araria (6), Kishanganj (4), Madhepura (4), Saharsa (4), Gopalganj (6), Siwan (8), Samastipur (10), Begusarai (7), Khagaria (4) and Banka (5).
Around 57% – 90% assembly constituencies in seven other districts had higher women turnout. Among them were six of the seven assembly constituencies in Katihar, nine of the 10 in Darbhanga, 10 of the 11 in Muzaffarpur, eight of 10 in Saran, seven of eight in Vaishali, four of the seven constituencies in Bhagalpur and three of the four districts in Jamui.
However, all 14 assembly constituencies in Patna, seven each in Bhojpur and Rohtas, four each of Buxar and Kaimur, three of Jehanabad, two each of Arwal and Sheikhpura had more men voters than women.
In Nalanda, barring Asthawan, the turnout of men was more than women in the remaining six constituencies of Nalanda. Similarly, in Aurangabad, barring Rafiganj, men outscored women in turning up for voting in the remaining five assembly constituencies.
Men also outnumbered women in two (Munger and Jamalpur) of the three assembly constituencies of Munger and one (Lakhisarai town) of the two in Lakhisarai district.
Gaya and Nawada had mixed response with four of the 10 assembly constituencies in Gaya and two of the five constituencies in Nawada having higher female voter turnout than men.
The high percentage of women votes is an indication of vote for change, said DM Diwakar, former director of the AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies and a political analyst. He felt that women votes would be divided this time.
“Though the JD(U) may think it is a positive vote, the reverse migration and unemployment may have a negative effect. While on the one hand, women may be happy by prohibition, but the fact that liquor is freely available, at a premium, may have a negative effect,” he said.
“For the first time, women have gone for issue-based voting. While the cycle and school uniform scheme for schoolchildren, reservation for women in jobs and prohibition has had a positive impact on them, but at the same time the government ignoring teachers’ demand for equal pay and for an increase in stipend of anganwadi workers and accredited social health activist has had a negative effect. So their votes will be divided this time,” added Diwakar.